Job creation and poverty alleviation

CapeNature runs a wide variety of job creation programmes across its reserves in the Western Cape, mainly through the national government’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), funded by the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure through the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning.

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These jobs are created across CapeNature's four landscapes (East, West, Central and South) – from the Cape metro, West Coast and Boland, to the Overberg, mountainous parts of the Langeberg, and isolated parts of the Karoo and Garden Route.

The programme prioritises the most vulnerable groups of our society, with phase 4 prescribing that the total number of employees must include 60% women, 55% youth and 2% disabled persons. As an implementer of the EPWP, CapeNature is dedicated and committed to meeting these targets every financial year. In 2020/21 CapeNature exceeded this mandate, with 602 beneficiaries employed (target: 450) through the programme, of whom 352 (58%) were women, 506 (84%) youth, and eight, people with disabilities.

Our EPWP employment footprint spans and impacts all six municipalities of the Western Cape. Participants of this programme reside in 67 communities that are adjacent to our nature reserves, including poverty nodes. Job creation is at the core of CapeNature’s biodiversity conservation initiatives and informs all our efforts.

EPWP beneficiaries are key in executing our annual plan of operations, as they perform important duties such as clearing water catchments of invasive alien tree species and rehabilitating freshwater ecosystems; fence erection and removal; firebreak and hiking trail maintenance; and rendering services such as security, administration, cleaning of offices and tourism facilities, and more.

Skills development and capacity building

As part of in-service training and skills development, CapeNature offers a wide spectrum of South African Qualifications Authority-accredited training progammes. Training offered includes, but is not limited to:

  • Health and safety
  • Brush-cutter operation
  • Chainsaw operation
  • Herbicide application
  • Basic wild veldfire training
  • Supervisory skills

These training programmes are offered to capacitate individuals to perform their duties with confidence and knowledge. This training gives them a much better chance in the job market and equips them to transition seamlessly into the mainstream economy. Participants are also encouraged to study further, with the understanding that formal education advances chances for employment.

CapeNature invites tenders from local contractors living near its reserves to provide cleaning, security and laundry services through service-level agreements, with the overall goal of creating jobs. It also employs interns and provides them with opportunities to develop their experience.

CapeNature manages around 6% of the Western Cape, with the biggest portion falling in mountainous areas, and runs various job creation programmes in partnership with other role players.

The programmes provide work on islands, and in provincial nature reserves, state forests, wilderness areas and privately owned mountain catchment areas.

CapeNature has projects aligned to the government’s EPWP job creation initiative in 28 rural nature reserves and two urban reserves across the Western Cape.

The EPWP is currently in phase 4, targeting vulnerable groups from the poorest communities with the aim of appointing 60% women, 55% youth and 2% people with disabilities.

Under the EPWP alone, CapeNature administers over R28-million, providing more than 600 jobs a year.

Apart from administering the EPWP projects, other job creation programmes at CapeNature include:

  • Integrated catchment management programmes
  • Natural resource management – related to water, wetlands, etc.
  • Services projects (funded through board funding)
  • Fire management
  • People and parks programme projects

Job opportunities include:

Fire and alien vegetation management

Construction of firebreaks, basic firefighting, block burns (preparation, execution and post-fire patrols) and alien vegetation clearing.


Cleaning services and gate guarding services.

Management and maintenance of tourism infrastructure

Roads maintenance, construction and maintenance of hiking trails, fence construction and maintenance, and soil erosion control.

Ecological infrastructure and natural assets creation

Naturally functioning ecosystems that deliver fresh water; climate regulation; soil formation and disaster risk reduction; and healthy mountain catchments, rivers, wetlands, coastal dunes, nodes and corridors of natural habitats.

Notable achievements include:

  • The removal and replacement of kilometres of fence, ensuring corridor connectivity in reserves such as the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve
  • The clearing of alien plant species under harsh conditions, enabling integration of former private farmland into conservation areas and the free roaming of animals
  • The construction of firebreaks and block burns, ensuring better fire management
  • The construction of hiking trails and the maintenance of ecotourism facilities, increasing tourism revenue
  • A harmonised, complex human-baboon relationship
  • The improvement of infrastructure in nature reserves. At Waterval, for example, a paving project not only improved aesthetics, but also helped develop paving skills
  • A reduction in abalone poaching as a result of patrols in Marine Protected Areas


Figure 6 Duivenhoks
Award-winning project helps develop local contractors

CapeNature’s long-standing and successful Goukou-Duivenhoks wetlands project has created 55 jobs for people from the nearby Hessequa towns of Heidelberg and Riversdale – and won numerous South African National Biodiversity Institute awards.

Verlorenvlei saramsar
Wetlands work benefits natural resources while creating opportunities

Creating jobs while managing natural resources translates into a win for both the environment and local people. The 10-year rehabilitation project of the Verlorenvlei wetlands on the West Coast achieved this and more.

Project Inspection Waterval EPWP Team
Building better futures on the Garden Route

Job creation. Skills development. Career success stories. These are some of the great results CapeNature’s Keurbooms EPWP project has yielded for local communities

Grootvadersbosch Eco venue
Grootvadersbosch skills training and jobs help uplift Hessequa community

From an EPWP contract position at Stony Point Reserve to conservation assistant at De Mond Nature Reserve and, most recently, an appointment as full-time field ranger at Grootvadersbosch – Nico du Preez’s career progress is a shining example of a CapeNature success story.

DISABILITY squares icons Community
CapeNature welcomes people with disabilities to its teams

CapeNature is constantly working towards greater inclusion for people with disabilities – not only for visitors, but also for its own teams on the ground.

EPWP Women Empowerment Driftsands 2019
Empowering women to grow through CapeNature

CapeNature has a special EPWP programme to empower women through peer assistance, informative talks, nature walks, talks, yoga, meditation and special events.